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Chakka pradhaman, a Kerala style jackfruit payasam

The Battle of Basantar (Dec 4-16, 1971) was one of the vital battles fought as part of the Indo-Pakistan War of 1971 in the western sector of India.

Chakka pradhaman, a Kerala style jackfruit payasam


This battle took place in the Shakargarh Sector or the Shakargarh Bulge that includes Jarpal and surrounding areas. The bulge was where Pakistan had intruded, as it was a strategic area for us, comprising vital road links to Jammu from Punjab. It was also economically important for both sides as it straddled the fertile area of the Indus river belt.

Lt Arun Khetarpal with two remaining tanks managed to not only target 10 enemy tanks and destroy them but he fought till the last breath. He was wounded badly but his courage was unquestionable. He won us this battle along with many others like the 5th infantry of engineers which compromised men from south India. They fought and won, sacrificing their lives, so we could live in peace. Thomas Philipose and Doraiswamy were two of the infantrymen who were awarded Vir Chakra for their outstanding bravery. Lt Arun Khetarpal, who was just 21 years, received the Param Vir Chakra posthumously.

Bada khana (which means big meal) was served as gratitude to the battle-fatigued men and this feast remained etched in all their memories. In the bada khana, a traditional payasam was made by the south Indian cook of the 5th infantry.

As a tribute to the men of the 5th infantry, I wanted to share this dish which is normally made in times of victory or celebration. I have heard my grandmother and her sisters narrating stories of the Japanese bombing of Madras harbour and the recession during World War II when food was rationed. During those hard times, jackfruit became sustainable food and they made several affordable dishes with it. Chakka pradhaman and chakka varatti (jackfruit is called chakka in Kerala) were made to celebrate the victory after the war, as an offering to the divine. This is more popular in Kerala and my grand aunt from Palakkad carried the tradition right into our homes. Jackfruit is called kathal in the north and palapazham in Tamil Nadu. It is popular as a vegetable, also made into koftas in the north.

A seasonal fruit, one can make several dishes with jackfruit. Ripe jackfruit has a distinctively strong aroma and is naturally sweet and can be used for making pradhaman (payasam). Recently, I made jackfruit payasam with a jackfruit I got from my friend’s tree. I salute the soldiers, who were killed in a faceoff with Chinese troops in Ladakh’s Galwan Valley.



Ripe jackfruit pieces: 12 nos

Grated jaggery:3/4cup

Grated coconut: 1 cup

Coconut milk:1 big cup

Milk: 1 cup

Water: 1/2-1 cup

Broken cashews: ¼ cup

Roasted coconut pieces : 2 tbsp

Ghee: 3 tbsp

Salt: a pinch

Cardamom powder: ½ tsp


  • Wash the jackfruit pieces, remove the seeds and brown coloured skin
  • Grind it to a paste, adding ¼ cup milk.
  • Melt the jaggery into syrup and keep aside
  • Take the uruli (traditional cookware), pour half the ghee and fry the jackfruit paste
  • Once fried, add the remaining milk and jaggery syrup and ½ cup water
  • Cook by stirring continuously
  • Add cardamom powder and pinch of salt
  • Add the coconut milk and stir well
  • Fry coconut pieces, grated coconut and cashew nuts in ghee and add to the payasam
  • Let it simmer for 2 minutes and then switch off. Serve hot


  • Frozen jackfruit pieces are now available for those who cannot get fresh jackfruit
  • Fresh coconut milk and cow’s milk are needed to bring out the flavours
  • Continuous stirring is required or it will burn

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